Friday, September 23, 2011

Musings: Shifting

The dogs and I observed the bookends of the overnight shift into the autumn equinox, walking the beach beneath the fiery clouds of sunset, walking the road beneath the thin moon and shiny stars of pre-dawn. Despite what the calendar says, all the signs of fall were already in evidence: cooler nights, north swells, shortening days, golden slanted light.

I fluffed up the remaining empty garden bed and planted green beans, tat soi, more arugula, and before the day ends, I will press seeds collected from especially tasty kabocha and sunrise papaya into tiny pots for later transplanting. Soon, I will start digging again, preparing new beds, hoping for abundance, yet always aware that harvest depends on the vagaries of nature.

Hopes of material abundance are starting to diminish, at least for all but the upper echelon, as the U.S. and other Western nations face the reality of a prolonged economic downturn.

I was talking to Sen. Ron Kouchi at the monk seal hearing last week, and he spoke of the budgetary challenges facing the state Legislature. He said he’d been out chatting with constituents, and one woman asked if things were going to get better, or if it was time to hunker down.

He advised her to hunker down, and told me, “We haven’t even seen the bottom yet.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing reports that many federal entitlement programs, including Section 8 housing subsidies and food stamps, will be facing dramatic cuts — up to 50 percent in some cases — in the years following the presidential election.

What that means is the prospect of more homeless, more hungry, more people living in precarious economic conditions.

At the hearing, I heard numerous fishermen, worried about the future of subsistence fishing at a time when they might need it more than ever, object to possible increased competition from monk seals brought down from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

More than a few uttered some variation on the theme of “I’m sick of people from other countries and other nationalities telling me what do in my own country.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard expressed often, and I wondered if the often uneasy relations between locals and everyone who wasn’t born here will be further strained by rough economic times.

As the saying goes, “high water covers the snags…”

I mention this not to create fear or worry, but to encourage us to start thinking of how we might assume more responsibility for ourselves, and others. How can we take care of those less fortunate, when the government gravy train slows or stops running? How can we become more self-sufficient, more self-reliant? How can we help facilitate the transition from rampant exploitation to sustainable harvest, with the same ease that summer shifts into fall?


Anonymous said...

What we can do is grow our own food on land that hasn't been turned into illegal TVR's! And actual require those psuedo-farmers / rich squaters to grow food that we actually need.

Anonymous said...

Start by firing half the State and County employees...stop funding all state and County pension funds....stop all welfare benefits.

irk said...

Excellent post!
You obviously took more thought time to smooth this one and make me think. Maybe it was the absence of angst and the pointed questions. Thank you. If there were a tin cup link in the margin, today I would definitely have reached in my pocket and rang it!

Anonymous said...

As bad as it is or could be, I would rather be here in Hawaii.

Although corrupt, inept, and uninformed, we have a better chance with change (government) here than on the mainland.

Many of our friends are now growing....(not pot!) but vegetables, raising chickens, and planting fruit trees. There is a movement....a current of more and more people getting conscious about sustainability and what does that really mean?

We are very vulnerable, here in the middle of the sea because we depend upon oil, and transportation services for our food.

Our biggest threats to sustainability are the GMO experiments on this island, the over spraying of herbicides, and the lack of knowledge, "know how", interest, commitment, and investigation by the people who we elected and run the government.

Nice people that really don't have what it takes to get things moving or lack of ambition....."what me worry?"

Change starts with you.

When and if more and more people hit poverty level, and the government does not provide help and assistance, the next logical and natural thing to do is to rebel, overthrow the local government...and have a revolution. But until things get really desperate, that will not happen soon.

Plant a garden, network with your friends, nurture some conscious people to run for local government, register to vote, and get rid of the waste sitting in government.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

I honestly believe the government has money but they are running a big scam.
Not to say I donʻt agree with everything mentioned. I do.
And, now that Abercrombie through Lingle has opened the door to Hawaii for the Chinese to move in, how will sustainability work then?

Me thinks the Hawaiian Nation got to move and we got to support more than ever.

Thank you, Joan. That was succinct.

Anonymous said...

Doc The Government is not going to change. Kauai will continue to elect friends and friends of friends.Planting a garden on the Titanic will not keep the ship afloat.Kauai and America have serious financial problems lettuce will not be accepted at the bank.Optimism is good thing however Reality cares little about it.There will be no revolution with the last two generations...they have no will or backbone. They can't even afford themselves. Thus we should listen to people who have been successful in the Financial world.America will change in the near future for the worse. Big and Hard choices need to be made now not after the ship has sunk.When you have ten people in a four man life raft....big and hard choices must be made.

Anonymous said...

"There will be no revolution with the last two generations...they have no will or backbone."

Don't be so sure. The Arab spring may have started with the Superferry protests on Kauai. Its just the spin that is different. There, of course, it was all about democratic-inspired youth rising up against government...... wait........... same here

Anonymous said...

Aloha kakou. Check out interview with Chris Hedges on He has a lot to say about the issues we are all facing now that empire is dying and lashing out with even more violence. Auntie's right: now for hunker down and take care of each other.